The masquerades came in large numbers, different sizes, shapes and colours to the Aholu Thanji, Ajido, Badagry, venue of the 2019 Ajido Zangbeto Festival. The programme was supported by the Lagos State government, West African Gas Pipleline Company Limited, Global Communications Limited, Intercontinental Distillers and Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum.
It was a herculean task for some of the men who controlled the masquerades as some got carried away with their performances that the men had to hurriedly move them out of the venue in order to avert violence.
Various groups, like the royal fathers, women of Zangan Yonnusi, Kregbeto, Zanholu, Ohugigo and others danced as friends, guests and tourists paid tribute to the king, Aholu Saheed Sedonu Adamson, Topon Toviaga 1, Aholu of Ajido Kingdom.
In his address of welcome, Oba Adamson said, “Zangbeto is a socio-cultural heritage that is celebrated in high esteem with devoted commitment by the people of Ajido Kingdom. We are dedicated and will always celebrate it religiously in colourful precession for the enjoyment of all and sundry.”
The Oba recalled, in 2018, Ajido keyed into the Lagos State Government’s proclamation that Lagos State was the hub of tourism in sub-saharan West Africa by projecting ideas with comparative advantage in boosting the ego of the government for the world to see. Hence, the rich, dexterous, and exotic culture of Ajido Zangbeto saw an unprecedented support and sponsorship of the state government.
“Our resolute and resilient labour in preserving the Zangbeto heritage is second to none. We have unequivocally aligned Zangbeto Festival to the vision of Lagos State in making the state the preferred destination for tourism, leisure and business in Africa and we are happy for this laudable achievement,” he said.
He assured the gathering that the organisers would move another step forward by pursuing and accomplishing the international tourism market pertinent to this kind of festival. If properly harnessed, he said it would easily bring to reality the mission of the ministry and, by extension, Lagos State towards sustainable tourism development that will be acceptable to government, locals, interested agents and foreign tourists.
Chairman, Organising Committee, Memesunu Amosu, hinted that it had become imperative at a time like this to start borrowing from the foundation of incoming generation, imperative in view of the current youth restiveness, drug and substance abuse, lawlessness and a host of other challenges.
“Somehow, our forefathers successfully used some formidable institutions to stabilise society and ensure peaceful living almost devoid of rancour. How much of those beautiful past have we been able into to build a formidable future for the younger generation? Even the so called civilised western society never jettisoned, wholesale, all the foundation laid by their own ancestors.
“Hence, till date some fine aspects of medieval practices and traditions of the English culture are still sustained and in use till date. Why, then, are we so rail-road into abandoning all our own which they termed ‘primitive African culture’, but, over there, in their own land, they have defined in fine literature as ‘classical’?”
The chairman added that the Zangbeto institution in Ogu land was one of such instrument of administration that worked well in the olden days, hence crime was well controlled and peace, love and affection was fostered.
A tourist, Chu, said he was fascinated with the number of masquerades on display and had learnt a lot about the unique festival. One of the traditional rulers observed the significance of Zangbeto was the symbol of the authority of the Ogu people.
“It is believed to be a royal emissary between the Aholu and the ancestors. It is also the intermediary meant to guide and connect the people to the ancestors through the Aholu. The outstanding display of Zangbeto Ajido enhances unity, peaceful coexistence, and has a therapeutic effect on the people,” he said.